the spot: Saigon Le Vendeur 2404 E. 7th St. Austin TX 78702
the eats: Bahn Mi combo
the bucks: $9
the full nelson: Killer Vietnamese sandwich in über hip neighborhood.
I didn’t want to believe Saigon Le Vendeur would be this good. I had heard good things over the years ever since moving to Austin. I suppose first and foremost I had a chip on my shoulder: I moved here from Los Angeles which arguably has the best Asian food in the US. I hear you Houston and . . . soon. Back to Saigon Le Vendeur which I finally got around to trying and OMG . . . best Banh mi I’ve had in years.
Saigon Le Vendeur is located in East Austin which is a pretty hip part of town these days. Of course like every other hip corner these days it was once considered “the wrong side of the tracks” and PS I tend to live in these types of neighborhoods. In fact I live in East Austin and prior to here, Downtown Los Angeles, so yeah I got my gentrified street cred for sure. Back to Saigon and the funky little food trailer it is . . .
These days nothing is really *that cheap* but let me tell you, under $10 for a fat sandwich is Cheap Eats livin’. Save the shrimp Banh Mi, that’s where you will safely land for all the sammies at Saigon Le Vendeur. This being the inaugural visit, I had to try the classic: Cold Cut Banh Mi.
Saigon Le Vendeur’s Banh Mi comes on a classic French Baguette. The bread features a crusty exterior that easily gives way to a soft pillowy interior with just enough chew. Every Banh Mi comes with the classic toppings of cilantro, cucumber, pickled daikon and carrot, jalapeños, and Vietnamese mayo(never knew that was a thing and might have to get some). Of course my sandwich also came with Vietnamese patê and various cold cuts.
The sandwich came with packets of sriracha that went unopened. The heat from the jalapeños along with vegetable crunch and acidity from the pickled carrot and daikon plus cucumber was pure perfection.
The meats, a mix of cold cuts plus Vietnamese patê was a charcuterie dream board with Vietnamese sensibilities. I’ve had a few Banh Mi’s in my day but realize now I have only scratched the surface on what the Vietnamese cold cut and paté game holds. Like many, I have gravitated to Banh Mi sandwiches because they have always been affordable and frankly some of the sandwiches you can get from a bread quality standpoint alone. The bread is very good at Saigon Le Vendeur and that thick slice of patê will keep you awake at night.
Before I ever went I wrote off Saigon Le Vendeur as overhyped in and overhyped town. Now I’m off two conclusions: Saigon Le Vendeur got serious Banh Mi game or there’s a world of great Banh Mi’s waiting for me. Either way I’m hooked.